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[Firefox Browser] [Thunderbird E-mail] [Other Useful Open Source Apps]

I need to update this; I am still using Firefox/Thunderbird, but the contents of the browsers and my recommended extensions has changed.  That said...

Tired of paying your Microsoft tax?  Tired of IE being the entry point to corrupting your computer?  Tired of constantly having to download updates to IE, only to have it hijacked?  Tired of having to worry about e-mail borne virii? Tired of SPAM? Tired of...

You get the picture.  Well, while the first browser war may have appeared to be won by M$$, I think their feature bloat, cheap security model is beginning to bite them at last.  A whole slew of products, open source and free to use, are available as alternatives.

Personally, I uninstalled MS/Office.  I now have OpenOffice installed on all of my computers at home.  That removes the first hole MS puts in your computer.  Take MS/Office and dispense it into the trash bin and get it OFF your computer.  (I, like most others, have to use it at work, but I figure if it whacks my work computer, that is the company's problem to fix as they picked it...)

Next, stop using IE for everything except MS Windows Update site (and maybe a few sites you trust that require it; then again, if they are that pathetic that they require IE in order to function properly, maybe they shouldn't be trusted...).

I figure that when support for Win2K is abandoned, I will be ditching MS altogether on my home network, as I refuse to pony up around $600 in upgrades for my home computers just for an OS that is loaded with security holes, etc.  I have been playing with Linux for awhile, and it is only a matter of time before my whole network makes the jump.  Just waiting for WINE/Codeweavers Crossover support for a few key apps (e.g., Quicken) and my MS days will be in the dumper!!

Below is a list of themes/extensions I recommend for people who want to get rid of IE/Outlook/Outlook Express.

Take back the web from Micro$oft! Restore it to a safer, standards compliant place to be!  Ditch IE ASAP!

Firefox Browser
Get Firefox

This is pretty much a no-brainer.  There are a ton of reasons to switch from IE.  See the information on the CERT recommendations here. Even scarier is this report from eWeek (Aug 19, 2004 Ziff-Davis, publishers of the popular PC Magazine and other respected PC technology magazines).  Having just read this makes me that much more sure:  GET RID OF IE NOW!!!  The idea that you can have something as horrible as this installed on your machine without any way to protect yourself is scary as all get out...

Firefox (and Mozilla) have the following great features that make it inherently more secure and easy to use than IE:

  • Popup Blocking
  • Tabbed Browsing
  • Google Search is built right into the toolbar
  • Privacy and Security

Other Extensions I installed (updated July 24, 2005):

AdBlock - perfect if you want to get rid of unsightly ads, etc. It lets you block addresses using wildcards and regular expressions, so you NEVER see content from adservers. It is pretty easy to train, as well as filter junk on the fly.

Image Zoom - Adds functions so you can zoom in and out of pictures. You can install it for Thunderbird as well, which is really convenient for e-mail.

Tabbrowser Preferences - Adds controls and tweaks for tabbed browsing.

Chrome Edit - gives you a simple way to access the chrome files to customize FireFox (advanced).

IEView - opens the current page in IE, in case the $%&@!!! webmaster uses IE only extensions, etc.

Google Toolbar - gives you all of the functionality of the Google Toolbar for IE.

Windows Update - adds Windows Update to the tools menu.  Launches IE going to the Windows Update site.

Thunderbird E-mail Client
Get Thunderbird

This is also pretty much a no-brainer.  Below is a list of extensions I use with it:

View Headers Toggle Very useful if you wish to see the headers of an email without viewing the source.

Contacts Sidebar Makes it easy to access your contacts in the main client; opens in the sidebar.

Sender Verification Adds some unique tools to help you do what the name says. Not perfect, since alot of domains don't support verification, but it helps.

Display Mail User Agent Adds icons which show you what e-mail client the sender used. Kind of neat...

Enigmail (Requires GNU Privacy Guard GPG Encryption) OpenPGP message encryption and authentication (Note:  this extension looks for gpg in the C:\gnupg\ directory, no matter what you specify in the preferences, so save yourself the trouble and put GPG in that location)

Other Useful Open Source Applications

The following is a list of applications that I use regularly in the place of commercial software (this list is not exhaustive, but lists most of the apps I use in place of well known commercial applications):


a lightweight open-source aggregator that supports RSS and ATOM formats. It works under Windows 95 and later versions.


a free productivity suite compatible with all major office suites.


a free image manipulation program, similar in capability to Adobe Photoshop.


a free password manager program; store all your 8 billion passwords in a single high encryption safe.  Remember just password but have different passwords for every system you use!

Cool freeware Applications

The following is a list of applications that I have been playing with recently. They are all freeware, and are pretty cool. Don't know what practical use some of them may be, but they are neat.


a cool Mac OS X-like toolbar

Google Earth 

a really neat virtual globe; it's like an interactive version of Google Maps...


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